I distinctly remember the first time I ever watched my mother putting on her makeup. I recall being mesmerized and intrigued by such a delicate process and I wondered if one day I’d ever learn to do it just the way that she did. I was never taught to apply makeup and no one ever advised me to start wearing it, makeup just somehow found its way into my daily routine and, much to my dismay, it has lingered there for the past decade.
At the age of thirteen I fell victim to what I like to call a very cruel plague of pubescence (better known as acne), which sadly affects too many unfortunate people like myself. Naturally, I was in a complete state of shock when it happened, my face seemed to have transformed overnight into this painful portrait of someone I didn’t recognize anymore and I was desperate for a solution. Of course after several cleansers and a few dermatologist visits later, nothing seemed to be working. I realized that the only temporary solution to my problem was to cover my face in unnatural concealers, creams and foundations that only momentarily rebooted my self-esteem and eventually just fueled my mind with depression and frustration.
At first I thought makeup was a wonderful way of making women everywhere feel better and more confident in their own skin, but over the years I’ve just grown to hate it more and more. Every day I wake up and I look at my bare face in the mirror and I sigh because it’s never the reflection I want to see. All I see are the acne scars, craters and bags under my eyes that I desperately wish weren’t there. Then I begin the torturous process of applying the concealer, foundation and powder that make me feel like I’m a little bit more presentable and I can finally start my day. Every day I’m fully aware that these standards I set for myself are a mixture of irrational thoughts influenced by what I’ve seen in the media growing up and my extreme lack of self-confidence, but that still doesn’t change the way I feel.
It’s no new revelation that women everywhere are pressured by the standards of beauty imposed on us by society. I still see it every time I look at the cover of a magazine, watch a movie or read an article about the latest celebrity “beauty trends.” I recognize that giving into these pressures is silly and that in reality most people wouldn’t care or treat me differently if I stopped wearing makeup, yet I still can’t make the change. Every time I attempt to convince myself that I should go a whole day without it, I revert back to the fear I have that people will see what I see when I look at myself in the mirror and criticize me.
On the few horrifying instances I have interacted with others while bare-faced, I’ve instantly regretted it when I heard comments like, “Whoa you look sick” or “Are you okay? You look really tired.” It never fails. Someone always feels the need to comment on how I look when I’m actually just being natural. Sure, their comments could be a result of the fact that they’ve never seen me WITHOUT makeup, but that doesn’t make them any less damaging to my confidence.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m honestly tired of it. I’m tired of comparing myself to celebrities and lucky makeup free girls with perfect skin. I’m tired of feeling uncomfortable with the way I look or dreading what I’ll look like in ten years. I’m tired of hearing people’s comments on whether I should or shouldn’t wear makeup. I’m tired of not believing my boyfriend when he tells me I look beautiful without makeup on. I’m just tired. Unfortunately, I know that there are plenty of young women out there going through the same inner battle. It’s an unspoken truth that many women are afraid to speak up about. Sure there are lots of women that love makeup and wear it for different reasons, but when you don’t feel like you’re good enough without it, it starts to feel like your mind is infected.
My hope is that young girls today don’t fall into the same trap I fell into at the age of thirteen because once you do it’s really difficult to accept yourself as you are. Today, I can acknowledge my self-esteem problems and recognize where they come from, but I still can’t stop wearing makeup. Maybe one day I’ll be able to feel okay without it, but for now I will continue to live in this prison I set up for myself because it’s the only place I really feel safe.